A few weeks ago I had lunch with a friend who works with a local nonprofit organization in Beaufort. I listened as she described the needs of her organization and the current financial state, and wished I had the ability to write a check then and there to cover the gap between their current balance and anticipated expenses.
In a legal sense, a community foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, autonomous, publicly supported, philanthropic institution composed primarily of permanent funds established by many separate donors for the long-term diverse, charitable benefit of the residents of a defined geographic area. Quite a mouthful.
Our geographic area consists of eight counties along the coast (hint – Coastal Community Foundation) beginning with Georgetown, and moving down through Coastal Community Foundation Map.jpg to Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester, Beaufort, Hampton, Jasper and Colleton counties.
We opened an office in Beaufort in 2009 and I became the first Regional Director of the four counties in what we fondly call the “southern four.” Actually we struggle with what to call the four counties in this region. I am open to suggestions. Really.
Now back to CF 101 — when I speak to civic groups and even to friends or acquaintances at parties I share my point of view. A healthy, vibrant community must have three sectors that support it. One is a strong, economically stable and job producing for- profit sector. People need good jobs to support their families and be consumers in their community. The second is a well-funded, effective and efficient public/governmental sector. There are services that the government should provide to all citizens in a community. (I know there is lots of debate about which ones!) And finally there are needs in every community that won’t be provided by government or for-profit organizations for a variety of reasons and those are the service gaps that can and should be delivered by nonprofits in healthy communities.
Our mission is to foster philanthropy for the lasting good of the community. So basically, we get money, grow money and give money. In the field we are seeing new roles emerge for community foundations beside asset development (getting) and grantmaking (giving). There is more emphasis on donor services, services to nonprofits and being a cheerleader for philanthropy in the community.
In future columns I will be teaching you about area nonprofits and what they do, how donors go about deciding where to put their hard earned money and I will be a vehicle for you to become connected to nonprofits by volunteering, serving on boards or just making informed decisions about your giving.
“Give back. Look forward”